Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Voltaire Revolution Power - VRP

A new 'bon mot' & Acronym.

Voltaire rather famously coined (or, depending on your source, is mostly attributed as having done so - no time to dig deeper for now; frankly it seems odd such a famous quote is not better documented) the phrase that best describes the core root of a civilised democratic society: "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I therefore find it interesting, if a little sad, when some, and often the noisily libertarian-claiming entities, kind of miss the irony of a stance that really would generate a lot of power if M. Voltaire was connected up in his grave to a generator:

England's pork barrel politics is paying for airlines to burn the planet

Any readers new to this process will note that this thread has some interesting characteristics:

a. very few of the responses deal with the substance of the article.

b. a large number of them concern the class or other characteristics of the author, rather than anything he has to say.

c. many of them concentrate on seeking to dismiss an issue which was not the central theme of the article but nevertheless informs it: climate change.

You might wonder what on earth is going on. You are not the only one.

Is it really too much to ask that we might have an informed debate about the issues raised here, none of which are trivial: namely the absence of democracy in England, the role of the RDAs and the revelation that taxpayers' money has been used to subsidise damaging activities that the government claims to have left to the free market?

Or are we going to allow these threads to be dominated by astroturfers?

OK, he's miffed. And has some right to be. There are clearly trolls simply there to wind him, and those who agree with him, up. But I fear in reacting as he has, and writing in this way, he has also undermined much of the authority he would seek to claim.

07 Jul 09, 8:36am

I am always intrigued by the use of the words 'we' and 'you' in an open blog, especially when the former is combined with 'allow'.

I'd suggest letting folks' arguments succeed or fail on their merits, or lack of.

Some are still able to make up their own minds without being 'assisted'.

That said, I tend to agree with the rest of the sentiments.

Readers of this blog will know that I have a real issue with 'them' and us' at the best of times, and especially when I find myself rolled up into someone's claim to speak or act for me when they clearly might not.

And, logically, other than venting, on an open blog I would love to hear how Mr. Monbiot proposes that 'he/they' do not 'allow' comment 'they' do not happen to like from some vagauely ill-defined 'others' in future.

'First came the trolls, and I moderated.
Then came for the astroturfers, and I moderated.
Then came those who simply disagreed with me, and I moderated.
Finally, when I had moderated all bar myself, there was no one left to read my blog.'

Paraphrased in honour of another key quote - unarguably attributed - regarding freedoms of speech.

At best pointless. At worst, a slippery path.


Dave said...

Poor old George - he does seems to have the largest following of trolls and astroturfers of any amongst the 'green journo' pack.
And, unlike what happened around and to Pastor Neimoller, at least the Grauniad's moderators do leave the vast majority of comments in place, however anti, rude and/or misinformed they are.
And I hope they continue so to do, as they always provide a source of amusement to many, myself included!

Peter said...

Well, this might give pause:

Climate denial \'astroturfers\' should stop hiding behind pseudonyms online

Do the words 'knee' and 'jerk' spring to mind?